The Stack is back on this Wednesday and the NHL Playoffs are here. Now I know I am unfortunately in the minority here, but I like the NHL Playoffs so much more than the NBA Playoffs. We’ll have our NBA playoff preview on Friday, but today it’s all about the NHL so let’s get right to the playoff preview I hope you demand in “the stack” for today, Wednesday, April 13th:
Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning (Wednesday, April 13th 7 PM ET NBCSN)
This is Pavel Datsyuk’s last go at a Stanley Cup. The Red Wing will retire at the end of the season. The Red Wings were able to make it into the playoffs for a 25th consecutive year, but their stay may be short. Tampa Bay has been a tad underwhelming this year, but with Steven Stamkos and the star of last year’s postseason run and Ben Bishop in net, the Lighting will be too much.
Pick: Lightning in 6
New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday, April 13th 8 PM ET USA)
In doing a little playoff digging, found out that the Penguins finished the regular season 14-2-0. That’s pretty good. Phil Kessel, Sid the Kid and company will put a lot of pressure on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Penguins are playing their best hockey of the season right now and they will get by the Rangers in this series.
Pick: Penguins in 7
Philadelphia Flyers @ Washington Capitals (Thursday, April 14th 7 PM ET NBCSN)
This year feels different. It is different. It will be different right? This has to be the Capitals’ year. Alex Ovechkin and company are playing great. They’ve bought into the head coach Barry Trotz’s system. Braden Holtby has played superb in between the pipes. The Flyers shocked a lot of people in head coach Dan Hakstol has done an incredible job in his first year on the job coming from North Dakota. There are a lot of reasons to like the Flyers…just not against the Capitals.
Pick: Capitals in 5
New York Islanders @ Florida Panthers (Thursday, April 14th 8 PM ET CNBC)
A lot of people like the Panthers. Good young core, the ageless wonder in Jaromir Jagr and goalie Roberto Luongo. Don’t think many people saw them being this good this year. I just don’t know if they have the playoff experience across the board like the Islanders do with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo and goalie Jaroslav Halak. This is a talented Islanders team. I think they find a way to pull off the mild upset over the Panthers.
Pick: Islanders in 6
Chicago Blackhawks @ St. Louis Blues (Wednesday, April 13th 9:30 PM ET NBCSN)
Like the Capitals, the Blues face a lot of pressure this postseason. The fans don’t care what they did in the regular season. It is all about the postseason. The Blues have battled through a lot of injuries this season. Something feels different surrounding this team. The playoffs are when the Blackhawks shine the most and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews should not be doubted, but it feels different this year. The Blue find a way to take it.
Pick: Blues in 7
Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars (Thursday, April 14th 9:30 PM ET NBCSN)
Old Minnesota team taking on new Minnesota team. Wild fans would love nothing more than to send the team they used to cheer home officially and out of the playoffs. But it sounds like Zach Parise may not play in this series and they ended the season on a five game losing streak. The Stars have so much offensive firepower and stars (pun intended) across the board. It is going to take a miracle for the Wild to win this series. Might even be a miracle for them to win a game.
Pick: Stars in 5
San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings (Thursday, April 14th 10:30 PM ET CNBC)
The Sharks were the best road team in the NHL this season at 28-10-3, but the Shark Tank wasn’t so kind to the team as they finished under .500. That will not help in the playoffs. The Kings play real well in the playoffs and I trust head coach Darryl Sutter and goalie Jonathan Quick more than I do the Sharks. The Kings came back from a 3-0 deficit a few years ago against this Sharks team. The Sharks want payback. Don’t think it is going to happen.
Pick: Kings in 6
Anaheim Ducks @ Nashville Predators (Friday, April 15th 10:30 PM ET NBCSN)
The Predators played really well the final weeks of the regular season. Filip Forsberg is a good player. James Neal has been playing tremendous lately. Pekka Rinne wants revenge for his pitiful performance in the net last year. The Ducks started off the season poorly, but came back on a tear. They have tremendous offense as well. Beware of the upset here, but I will take the Ducks…barely.
Pick: Ducks in 7
Eastern Conference Finals: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Western Conference Finals: Dallas Stars vs. Los Angeles Kings
Stanley Cup Final: Washington Capitals vs. Los Angeles Kings
Stanley Cup Champion: Washington Capitals
Enjoy the playoff hockey everyone. Almost nothing better in sports than playoff hockey.
Coming up Thursday: Warriors get the record? Plus a farewell to Kobe and more.